Meghan Hamlin of Braintree, Vt., asks: My Border Collie, Molly, was attacked by another dog on her walk earlier this week. Thankfully, she’s not badly hurt and is being treated by the vet, but we are worried about the effect this could have on her. Is there anything we can do to help her get over the trauma and ensure this doesn’t cause her to fear other dogs?
We are sorry that this happened to your dog. This is a responsible dog owner’s nightmare. You obey leash laws and make sure that your dog doesn’t cause trouble for anyone, but things beyond your control can still happen.
When Molly is feeling better and can start walking again, let her take things at her own pace. You don’t need to go far from home to start. Take high-value treats with you on your walks and give her lots of them (they should be tiny) whenever another dog is in sight. If good things always happen to her when another dog comes along, she will develop positive associations with seeing one. If she shows signs of being upset, cheerfully and calmly change direction. If you live in an area where loose dogs are a problem, drive to a different park or neighborhood to walk in.
Do not force her to interact with any dogs if she does not want to. If other pups are allowed to approach her, straining at their leashes while their owners insist your dogs should meet, it’s perfectly fine for you to say no. Not all dogs want other dogs in their personal space — just like humans! Check out our tips on how to handle situations like this.
Our dogs are cherished members of our families, sharing our lives and providing unconditional love. But all dog owners know that our canine partners have different perspectives on life than our human family members.
If you have ever asked “Why does my dog do that?” then this feature is for you. The AKC GoodDog! Helpline training team will answer your questions on dogs’ behavior and offer training advice to help you and your dog have the best relationship possible. The AKC GoodDog! Helpline is a seven-day-a-week telephone support service staffed by professional dog trainers. For more information on the service and how to enroll, go to www.akcgooddoghelpline.org.